Selling an NYC apartment can be overwhelming – that’s why we’ve put together this page which contains a wealth of information, tips, and tools to help you make an informed decision and find the right buyer/offer for your property. From finding a great seller’s agent to preparing your home for sale, to negotiations, we’ve got you covered.
🔼 New NYC Seller? This Is What You Need To Know
Prefer to watch rather than read?
Consider watching our video guide to selling an NYC apartment!
We have tons of episodes of our NYC Real Estate specific podcast available – you can check them out here, but we’ve also linked a bunch of them below so you have all the pertinent information at your fingertips.
12 Steps to Selling An NYC Apartment
Step 1: Initial Conversations With Agents/Brokers
What to Ask A Prospective Seller’s Agent
🔼 What IS the Role of an NYC Real Estate Broker?
When you’re enlisting the assistance of an agent in selling an nyc apartment —and signing a contract of exclusivity with them—it’s essential to have a good feeling about the relationship. After all, you will be spending plenty of time working together over the next few months, and there may be moments of stress now and then.
Our best advice is to interview several agents and thoroughly vet them. We’ve included a few questions you can ask below:
- How long have you been working as a real estate agent in NYC? Experience matters in a market like New York City. This is especially true if it’s a buyer’s or a seller’s market since each come with their own benefits and difficulties. Look for an agent who has a solid track record and a deep understanding of the local market conditions, trends, and regulations. Our team has a combined experience of 40+ years with $1B+ in sales volume, and we stay on top of current market trends in our monthly Manhattan real estate statistics podcast.
- How many listings do you currently have? Consider how many listings a particular agent has compared to other agents – you don’t want someone with too many or too few. Also take into account the size of their team, the quality of the listings (look for picture quality, typos in the listing description, etc.), how often they host open houses, etc. Lastly, take a look at how many listings the agent has in contract. Ideally you’re looking for someone with top-notch pictures, attention to detail, and a healthy number of listings for the current market climate. You can see an up-to-date view of our listings here.
- How do you determine the listing price for properties you sell? Pricing your property correctly is crucial for a successful sale. An experienced real estate agent should have a solid understanding of market comparables, recent sales in your neighborhood, and current market conditions to help you arrive at an appropriate and competitive price. They should also want to see the condition of your home before they give you a price.
- Which co-op or condo boards have you worked with in the past? Have you worked in my building? If you’re selling a co-op or a condo (which, if you’re in NYC, you most likely are), it’s crucial to work with an agent familiar with the unique challenges and requirements of these properties. Ask about the agent’s experience working with your building or those similar to it.
- How often will we be in touch? Clear and regular communication is essential in a successful seller-agent relationship. Ask the agent how they plan to keep you informed about showings, offers, and any developments in the selling process. Discuss your preferred communication methods and ensure they align with the agent’s approach. You should never have trouble getting in contact with your agent.
- What’s your marketing plan? A solid marketing plan for selling an NYC apartment includes advertising, online listings, and a calendar of open houses—both for prospective buyers and for other brokers. Ask about the agent’s approach to marketing, including their use of professional photography, videography, online listings, open houses, and targeted advertising. The agent should have a comprehensive plan to showcase your property’s unique features and reach a wide audience. You can see examples of our photography and videography here, and our social media presence here.
- Can you provide me with references or testimonials from past clients? Ask for references or testimonials from previous sellers to gauge the agent’s professionalism, communication skills, and overall client satisfaction. Speaking to past clients can give you valuable insights into their experience working with the agent. You can see our Google Reviews here.
At the end of the day, a seller’s broker should be:
- An excellent educator on both the current market climate and the usual selling process
- An objective advisor that can take the emotion out of the transaction
- A marketing specialist with a great track record of selling properties similar to yours
- A stellar negotiator that will always have your best interests in mind
- A great listener – they should take your concerns to heart and remember your priorities
Remember, choosing the right seller’s agent is a critical decision that can significantly impact the success of your sale. Take the time to interview multiple agents, compare their responses, and select the one that best aligns with your goals, needs, and preferences. If you’d like to get to know our team better, click here!
Step 2: Sign the Listing Agreement
When selling an NYC apartment, it’s common practice to sign an exclusive listing agreement with a broker. The contract, which typically runs six months or longer, spells out exactly how your apartment will be marketed, what access your broker will have to your place (and when), and how much your agent will be paid for her services.
Here are six basic terms you need to know about listing agreements:
🔼 How Do Real Estate Commissions Work? Are They Worth It?
A percentage of the sale price, defined in the listing agreement, is paid to the agent by the seller at the closing table. NYC real estate commissions are typically 5-6%, especially on apartments up to $2M or so. The commission is usually split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent, but this can vary. Also, you get what you pay for, so be wary of agents that are offering rates below what you usually see.
An exclusive agreement will spell out the terms of the contract and state that your agent now has the sole right to sell your property for the duration of the agreement.
That means the commission will be paid even if you find a buyer yourself.
Exclusivity can actually be further broken down into Exclusive Right to Sell and Exclusive Agency. Exclusive Right to Sell is the most common and comprehensive type of listing agreement, and it makes sure that whoever brings the buyer, the agent is entitled to a commission upon a successful sale.
Exclusive Agency, on the other hand, means the seller retains the right to sell the property independently without paying a commission to the agent. However, if the agent finds the buyer, they are entitled to a commission. Exclusive Agency agreements are very rare in Manhattan, but they do happen every once in a while.
When signing an exclusive listing agreement, it’s important to discuss how the apartment will be staged and advertised, how showings will be handled, and when open houses will take place.
4. Agent’s Responsibilities
The listing agreement should outline the specific responsibilities of the seller’s agent. These may include marketing the property, conducting showings, managing inquiries, negotiating offers, coordinating inspections, and guiding you through the closing process. Ensure that the agreement clearly defines the agent’s scope of work and any additional services or resources they will provide.
5. Protection Clause
For any exclusive agreement, this piece of the contract protects the seller’s interests. It also protects the agent or broker (and guarantees his or her commission) for a certain period of time after the expiration date. This is important if, for example, a prospective buyer brought in by the agent during the agreement period reappears and makes an offer after the agreement has expired.
6. Terminations and/or Withdrawal Clauses
Listing agreements should include provisions for termination or withdrawal. These clauses outline the conditions under which either party can end the agreement before its expiration. Common termination reasons include a breach of contract, dissatisfaction with the agent’s performance, or a change in circumstances. Review these clauses carefully and consult with legal counsel if necessary.
Most exclusive agreements run for a term of six months. If your apartment hasn’t sold by the end of that period, it’s time to have a sit-down with your agent to discuss fresh strategies (and, perhaps, revised pricing). From there, you can re-up the agreement or decide to part ways. It’s important to carefully consider the duration based on market conditions, the agent’s marketing plan, and your personal circumstances. Be aware that terminating the agreement early may incur penalties or obligations.
Remember, the listing agreement is a legally binding contract, so it’s crucial to thoroughly read and understand its terms before signing. Choose a reputable and experienced seller’s agent who can guide you through the agreement and ensure a smooth selling process.
Step 3: Pre-Listing Preparations
If you’re interested in selling an NYC apartment for the highest price possible in the shortest amount of time, you’re probably going to need to do a little light work on the apartment itself before you list. Now is not the time to do significant renovations (unless you’ve discussed it with your broker/agent), but there are a few polishes we encourage our clients to put on before the photographer and videographer show up.
Make Necessary Repairs
We’re all familiar with the little quirks that don’t really affect your day to day life in your apartment, but are in need of fixing. If one of your doors is missing a doorstop and it bumps the wall behind it, get that fixed. If you’ve got a cracked lightswitch plate, swap it out for a new one. Repair any scratches or dings in your drywall. Fix the toilet that runs unless you jiggle the handle just so. Refinish dingy hardwood floors. Put a fresh coat of paint in every room. Try to look at your place through the eyes of a buyer – these issues may have faded into the background for you, but we promise your potential buyers will take notice if you don’t take care of them.
Deep Clean Everything
Before you consider selling an NYC apartment, it’s imperative that you give the apartment a very deep clean. Windows should be washed, inside and out, so nothing distracts from the view. Make sure cobwebs and dust are swept out of every corner and crevice. Polish any wood built-ins until they sparkle. Make sure you bathrooms and grout lines are pristine. Degrease every inch of your kitchen and make sure you don’t miss the inside of appliances like the oven or microwave. Again, potential buyer’s eyes are much keener than most seller’s eyes and we want to present the most enticing version of your home.
Declutter Each Room (& the Closets)
One of the keys to selling an NYC apartment quickly is to make sure your space is an attractive blank slate. It needs to have mass appeal to draw multiple offers – even if that means you remove your personality from it a bit. Take down family photos and replace them with generic artwork. Pack up any collections you may have.
If you have pets or children, get creative with storing away their numerous toys so the floor is clear and uncluttered. If a room feels overcrowded & tiny because of your massive antique wardrobe, store it elsewhere. Remember to organize and neaten your closets, because folks will open everything.
When there’s less evidence of the people that used to live there, potential buyers find it much easier to imagine their own lives and belongings in your home.
🔼 Staging Apartments to Sell In NYC
There are various methods of staging a home that incur various levels of cost and commitment, but we promise you that in order to secure the highest offer in the shortest time frame, you’re wise to stage your Manhattan apartment somehow.
We often include light staging in our services when we take on the role of seller’s agent, but not every agent in Manhattan does. This includes our tried and true methods to balance the light in every room and make your spaces feel open and functional. We ask that you keep your apartment staged throughout the marketing and showing step of the sales process.
Depending on your budget and needs, we may recommend professional staging (a low-effort and high-cost option) or virtual staging (a low-effort and low-cost option) instead. Please listen to or watch our podcast about the ins and outs of staging in order to learn more. In general, it’s crucial to curate your home and present it in the best possible light (literally and figuratively) in order to close a deal you can be satisfied with.
Photography & Videography
Once your home is in tip-top shape, we swoop in with our professional photographers and videographers to create all the necessary material for digital and print marketing. These photos and the video will be most of your potential buyer’s first impression of your apartment. We also produce the most accurate floor-plan possible.
The preparation of all these marketing materials is vital. Potential buyers rely heavily on video in particular to get an idea of how each individual room in your apartment flows together. Excellent photography and videography can drastically widen the funnel of buyers who come through your door to get an in-person walkthrough.
Step 4: Listing Goes Live
The first step to selling an NYC apartment is listing it on Corcoran’s website as well as The Gasdaska Conlon Team website (see our current listings here). This is where the photography, videography, marketing copy, building information, pricing information, etc. come together to tell the story of your home. Corcoran also distributes the listing through REBNY’s hub to all the other residential real estate brokerages in the city.
Once we have an active listing to link to, we distribute your listing to our exclusive mailing list of brokers and buyers alike. This marketing email includes photographs, videos, and information about the listing.
Social Media Marketing
In addition to putting the listing on multiple sites and distributing emails, we also promote all our active listings on a number of social media channels. The professional photography and videography features heavily in our social feeds.
We keep our active listings in the front of our audience’s minds with engaging content in order to keep showings coming long after the first open house ends.
Step 5: Showings/Open Houses
After the listing is launched and our marketing push begins, your role as the seller boils down to one thing: being flexible. Every member of our team will be familiar with your apartment as we all make a point to attend the photo/video walkthrough. All we really need from you is to vacate the apartment when we have showings scheduled. If you have a second residence or family you can stay with, that’s fantastic. Another option, if you have friends in your building, is simply to pop over to visit them for a bit while folks tour your home. Remember, if you have pets please take them with you when you give us space to work our magic!
We will of course be extremely communicative with you before, during, and after showings or open houses. Although there’s a certain amount of disruption that comes with this step in the process, we try our hardest to minimize and mitigate it as much as possible.
Seller’s Agent Due Diligence
While we are assembling all the info for your listing and spending time in the apartment in order to conduct showings, we keep an eye on what’s happening in the building. We want to make sure we have up to date and accurate information about potential upcoming assessments or renovations in public areas, etc. We distribute this information amongst our entire sales team so that no matter who is showing your apartment, they can answer tough questions from potential buyers with ease.
Step 6: Field Feedback or Offers
What the Buyer’s Agent Has to Say
First things first, after any showing, we reach out to the buyer’s agent in order to get honest feedback from them about what their buyers thought about the apartment. As trusted advisors for our clients, the general perception of the apartment is a crucial data point for us to keep in mind as we continue to market it. All feedback is valuable and actionable for us in some way – whether it’s a “no”, “maybe”, “not yet”, “yes, but”, or outright “yes!” from potential buyers.
As we gather feedback, we’ll make note of any repeated points that come up and tailor our advice to you, the seller, to fit those common themes. Outlying comments may factor into our advice as well, but generally the repeat feedback is the most valuable because it represents a larger segment of the current buyer pool.
Now for one of the most exciting aspects of selling an NYC apartment – fielding offers. It’s important to engage with even lowball offers at some level, no matter what you personally think or feel about it. Courtesy in your responses can sometimes lead to pleasant surprises during negotiations – if we reject “too low” offers bluntly we may never know what price those buyers were willing to come up to.
As we navigate what we hope are multiple offers on your property, it’s crucial that you make an effort to remove your emotion from the process. You are going to feel differently and likely more strongly about this apartment than any other party involved. Our guidance takes your feelings into account, but we will always make our recommendations based on what we feel is truly the best outcome possible under the given circumstances of the market.
We do our best to ensure that our sellers’ expectations are realistic for the market they are in at the time of listing. The last thing we want is for you to feel blindsided or disappointed by the results of your showings and open houses.
While sometimes selling an NYC apartment is simple, more often than not, some level of negotiations are required – and things can quickly get complicated.
It is possible that a potential buyer makes an offer you are completely satisfied with and all you have to do is accept it, but often the initial offer is just opening a dialogue between parties. That dialogue is the negotiation process.
An absolutely vital component to a successful negotiation is whether or not your agent can qualify the buyer. Anyone can make an offer that looks enticing – but it’s our job as the seller’s agent to make sure the buyer has dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s financially speaking.
The board of your building will vet your buyer thoroughly, especially in a co-op purchase, but it’s best for us to do so prior to signing any contracts in order to ensure the transaction makes it to closing day swiftly and with as few bumps in the road as possible.
Additionally, this is where your broker’s experience in both Manhattan and the neighborhood you’re in come into play. The more knowledgeable your real estate expert is about comparable recent sales and trends within the block or building, the better able they are to negotiate on your behalf and get you the best sale price possible.
Step 7: Accepted Offer
Assembling the Transaction Sheet
Once both parties have agreed to the terms of the sale, we enter the transaction sheet and paperwork phase of the process. The listing agents compile those terms and the buyer and seller’s relevant information into the transaction sheet, which is distributed to both parties’ attorneys.
Once the transaction sheet arrives, the attorneys can begin their due diligence on the building and title. This step is essentially the attorney signing off on the transaction saying it’s fair and there are no potential issues with the title.
Our job as the listing agent is to make the relevant information as accessible as possible and to facilitate communication between the buyer’s attorney and the managing agent of the building. The more efficiently and effectively we can navigate the buyer’s due diligence, the quicker we can get the contract assembled.
The two attorneys (buyer and seller) will then enter their own negotiations with the goal of a fair contract for both sides of the transaction in mind. Your attorney will share the contract details with you at a high level but you likely will not see the full contract until they’ve come to a mutual understanding.
Step 8: Contract Signed
Executing the Contract
After the attorneys agree on the contract, they will present it to their clients. If everyone agrees to the terms, the buyer will sign the contract first and submit the 10% contract deposit. The sellers will then countersign the contract and return it to the buyer’s attorney. The seller’s attorney will place the contract deposit into an escrow account until closing.
Until all of the above steps are complete, the contract is not legally binding. This means either party can walk away right up until both signatures are dry. We always want our clients to make well-informed decisions, but there is a sense of urgency we ask for at this stage of the sale. Dragging your feet can lead to the buyer’s feet getting cold.
Step 9: Buyer Board Package/Mortgage Application
As the seller at this step in the sale process, you don’t have much to do! As your agent, we will keep tabs on the progress of your buyer through the assembly of their board package. And of course, we’ll update you along the way.
The responsibility for guiding the buyer through the mortgage process usually falls on the buyer’s agent. That said, if there is any way we can assist in moving the application along, The Gasdaska Conlon Team always does so, in order to make sure our sellers transact successfully. Most building boards require a commitment letter from any lender involved in the sale, so securing this letter is the final piece of the puzzle needed in order to submit the board application.
Submitting the Board Package
We are extremely well-versed in the ins and outs of putting together pristine board packages that represent our buyers well. Typically, this experience proves more relevant when we are representing the buyer in a transaction. However, there are some cases where the buyer’s agent is a little greener than us or a buyer has particularly complex financials, and in those transactions we are happy to share our expertise to benefit our sellers.
We usually work on the mortgage application and the board package concurrently, so that once the commitment letter from the lender comes in, the board package is ready to be submitted to the managing agent. They will screen it first, and then send it on to the building board for review.
Step 10: Board Interview/Condo Waiver
One incredibly important thing to keep in mind when selling an NYC apartment is that the board of your building can take as long as 2-8 weeks (or longer) to review the buyer’s application. This is why thorough preparation and thoughtful presentation in the previous step are so important – to eliminate as much back and forth about the application as possible.
Co-op Board Interviews
After the co-op board reviews the buyer’s application and they decide they wish to move on to the interview step in the process, the interview often happens within a week. As with the board package, the buyer’s agent will typically prepare the buyer for the interview.
Again, we check in with the buyer’s agent to make sure everyone feels good about the interview ahead of time. If the buyer’s agent reports any uncertainty, we do our best to help them mitigate that.
To avoid surprise denials at this stage in the process, those steps early on where we qualify and vet the buyers beforehand are key. Because of that groundwork, it’s rare for us to get anything but an approval at this stage.
Condos and the Right of First Refusal
As with co-ops, the managing agent reviews the application first, then sends it along to the board for review. However, the next steps are substantially different. The condo board does not necessarily need to approve a buyer, they are simply reviewing the application and terms of the transaction to decided whether or not to exercise the right of first refusal.
The right of first refusal is a clause in condominium bylaws that gives the board the right to deny a pending transaction – if they agree to purchase the unit at the same price the buyer and seller have agreed upon. Most average condominium bylaws allow 30 days for the board to issue or waive the right of first refusal. It’s rare for condo boards to exercise that right, but it can happen.
When you hear back from the condo board or the window specified in the bylaws runs out without a response, the transaction can move on to the final steps.
Step 11: Final Walkthrough
What A Final Walkthrough Is
One of the last hurdles in selling an NYC apartment is the final walkthrough. A final walkthrough is conducted by the buyers and their agent, where they look over your now empty apartment and agree to accept it as is or ask for repairs/concessions for necessary repairs.
In other markets across the country, the property is inspected before closing and the buyers make their requests based on the opinion of the home inspector. In New York City, apartments typically convey in “as-is” condition. This means that all appliances, lights, and built-in electronics are to be in working order, floors are to be broom-swept, etc. before the final walkthrough takes place.
Preparing for Your Final Walkthrough
Leading up to the final walkthrough, we have a few tasks we consider standard issue.
First, change all the lightbulbs and make sure all the outlets and light switches are in working order. Next, run ALL the appliances to ensure they still run normally – especially if the apartment has been empty for some time. We recommend you get your apartment professionally cleaned. Additionally, if you or your movers caused any damage in the moving process, we recommend addressing those repairs before the walk-through.
All of our recommendations stem from this question: How would you like to see your new home at the final walkthrough? Sparkling, well-lit, and operational are a great place to start.
Step 12: Closing
Once the final walkthrough has occurred, there is truly nothing left to do except close the deal!
The Closing Table
On closing day, there will be quite a few parties in the room. The buyer and seller will each be accompanied by their agents and attorneys (if they haven’t given their attorney the power to close on their behalf). If financing is involved on the buyer’s side, the lenders will send in their attorney. The managing agent for the building may be present, especially if the closing takes place in their office.
The attorneys will walk both parties through the documents as they sign them, and the real estate agents are there essentially to facilitate/provide comic relief. Once everything has been signed, the deed or stock certificate and keys will be transferred to the buyer and you, the seller, will get paid. Both sides’ real estate agents will be paid at closing as well.
After closing, it’s time to celebrate! You’ve navigated what can sometimes be a stressful and complex process successfully. Congratulations! Get yourself a nice dinner and a bottle of your favorite beverage.
On the go? Click to listen.
We have tons of episodes of our NYC Real Estate specific podcast available – you can check them out here.
As we’ve mentioned before, the Gasdaska Conlon Team is always here if you need advice, have questions about a specific part of the process, or are interested in selling an NYC apartment. Just reach out via email or by giving us a call – we look forward to meeting you.